Why not try a formal picnic for a change? – Miss Manners

Hear, hear. The fact that this seems novel and exciting is telling:

The motto of informality is: “Let’s do things the easiest, most convenient way and never mind how they seem, because nobody is paying any attention, anyway.”

Formality says: “Yes, it does matter, and the surrender of individuality to high group standards is a trivial sacrifice to the overall beauty of the thing.”

At a formal picnic, people do not wear exercise clothes, serve food in packages from the store, eat wandering around whenever they feel like it or treat bits of paper as napkins, cardboard as plates and plastic as flatware.

Food is served on non-absorbent materials, to be eaten with unbreakable utensils, and the fact that a table cloth, napkins, dishes and cutlery will have to be washed afterward is accepted as one of the burdens of civilization.


Dress does not begin with a surrender to the heat, but the optimistic, if vain, idea that one can rise above it, so to speak. Gradual reactions, such as fanning, forehead mopping and the rolling up of sleeves or baring of feet to dangle in creeks, are considered more exciting than just starting out by sweating into one’s gym suit.

Why not try a formal picnic for a change? – Miss Manners